Q. Hourly and Flat Fees What’s the Difference?

A. Hourly and Flat Fees, What’s the Difference? Hourly and Flat rate billing are longstanding fee structures in the legal profession.  Flat fee structures are typically common in practice areas such as criminal defense and family law.  However, there is a growing trend for flat fee rates in estate planning, business, regulatory and employment matters.  The following are key characteristics of flat fee and hourly rate structures: Hourly: ·         Billed per hour: An attorney will charge you per hour for their services.  Typically, services will include an attorney’s time to write documents, conduct legal research, communicate with opposing counsel, communicate…

Q. How can I just speak with an attorney for free?

A. In celebration of National Law Day, the Milwaukee Bar Association (MBA) will be providing FREE legal information clinics Saturday, May 4, 2013, from 1:0 0 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  The free legal information clinics will be held at four metro Milwaukee locations:   – South Side – Bay View Library                          2566 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.                          Milwaukee, WI   – Downtown – Central Library                                       814 W. Wisconsin Ave.                                      Milwaukee, WI   – North Side – Center Street Library                         2727 W. Fond du Lac Ave.                                      Milwaukee, WI   – West Side – Atkinson Library           1960…

Q. How long should I keep a copy of my return and other tax documents?

Q. How long should I keep a copy of my return and other tax documents? A. A general rule is to keep your return for three years after filing. However, depending on your circumstances the IRS expects you to keep your return (and related records) for up to seven years. That said, if the IRS believes you have filed a fraudulent return, there is no limit to how many years back they may audit you. So, unless you need the space, I recommend you keep your return and supporting documentation for as long as possible. Joseph Cohen is the attorney…

Q. Should I get help preparing my return?

A. The tax code is so complicated most tax professionals look things up from time to time. Even if your return is simple (one income source, no significant deductions, etc.) you should consult a tax professional before filing your return. Many tax preparation companies offer free preparation of simple federal returns (Form 1040EZ). However, they typically charge an additional fee to complete your state return, so be sure to shop around! That said, price should not be your only consideration. Be sure to consult with a tax professional you trust, who has experience helping clients in your situation. www.findmilwaukeelawyers.org Atty.…

Q. Should I file a tax return this year?

A. Generally speaking, you should file an income tax return, even if you have low or no income. There are several reasons why: ·         You may qualify for tax credits based on your income, age, and other factors. ·         You may qualify to have money withheld from your paycheck returned to you. ·         Many income-based loan and grant programs require you to prove your income using your prior year tax return. ·         You can’t get a tax refund without a tax return! When you file a tax return, the worst that can happen is you pay the taxes you owe…

Q. What’s new in taxes in 2013?

A. It’s hard to capture every change made to the federal income tax laws in the last year. The following are some of the major changes. They shouldn’t affect your tax return, but they may already be affecting your paycheck. ·         Your take home pay may have decreased this year. Congress let a 2% social security tax break expire. Employees are once again contributing the full 6.2%. ·         The wage ceiling on the social security tax has been increased to $113,700. ·         An additional 0.9% is being withheld for Medicare on earnings over $200,000. ·         Additional deduction restrictions and increases…

Q. What should I do if the police pressure me to make a confession?

A. Ask to see a lawyer immediately. Many times, the police will attempt to coerce a confession or get your cooperation by telling you about the penalties you are facing or what it will be like in prison. It is also a common police practice to exaggerate or even lie about the strength of their case against you. Do not be deceived. www.findmilwaukeelawyers.org John A. Birdsall Birdsall Law Offices SC  135 W Wells St Ste 214  Milwaukee WI  (414) 831-5465

Q. Knock & Talk Situations

A. The police are at your door. They want to talk to you. They are not there to arrest you. Rather they are there in what they call a “knock & talk.” You still have a right under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution to not make any statements. You need to exercise that right especially at this critical moment. There is two reasons for this. The first is that nothing you say is possibly going to help you and will probably hurt you. The police will twist your statements and generally make you look guilty in whatever report they write up. The…

Q. Can the police search my cell phone?

A. If you are placed under arrest, do the police have the legal authority to search your cell phone? The answer is that the cell phone is considered as container within the law and if it is on your person or within your reach they can legally look into your email, texts and your contact list to investigate for criminal activity. A more complicated question is: If the phone is password protected, do they have the authority to try and crack the code or compel you to give them the code? The answer to the first question is: Yes, they…

Do I really need an attorney? Can’t I represent myself?

Do I really need an attorney? Can’t I represent myself? Abraham Lincoln once said, “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.” The same can be said of defendants who represent themselves. Being your own lawyer is almost always a bad idea. If you are unable to afford legal representation, the court will appoint an attorney for you. The court will allow self-representation if it determines that you have “knowingly and intelligently” given up your Sixth Amendment right to counsel. However, you will be held to the same level of education and experience as an attorney. The court will not make any…